As a new mother, you are going to be perpetually exhausted, under tremendous stress, and experience emotional highs and lows. Postpartum experiences are one of peaks and valleys. As in any transition, you will deal with many losses as well as gains. At times, you may question your ability to mother well. Your relationships with friends and specially your significant other, will probably change. You may feel very isolated and you may miss some aspects of life that you enjoyed before the baby's arrival. New mothers typically report experiencing the full range of emotions―from elation, joy, pride, spiritual expansion, jealousy, anger, guilt, and frustration. A sense of ambivalence during the first months of your baby's life is not a sign that you are an inefficient or uncaring mother. On the contrary, it is a sign that you are deeply aware of the significance of this experience and that you are allowing your love for this child to change and deepen your sense of who you really are.
Your expectations of motherhood may not match with reality. The images that you might have had of motherhood, garnered from media, had you believing that nearly every minute spent with your bundle of joy would be peaceful, joyful, and fulfilling. However, caring for a child is difficult, emotionally demanding, and frequently boring work. It is likely to come as a shock when you find that you were not prepared for just how demanding your infant could be. You might find yourself constantly frustrated by the repetitive nature of the tasks (for as soon as you have diapered, clothed, and fed your baby, it is time to repeat the cycle). If you are a working woman, then you might miss social interactions you enjoyed at the office or the intellectual stimulation of your job. No matter how much you love your child, it is perfectly normal to admit you are not necessarily enamored by the role of a full-time, at-home mom.
You may find yourself so enthralled with your little one that your love for the baby begins to eclipse your love for your husband. You might find that your needs to be touched and adored are satisfied by interactions with your baby. However, your husband will still long for the intimacy you'll once enjoyed. You might realize that finding time for an adult conversation or for a romantic night requires too much effort and energy from your end. What you must realize is that unless a couple puts forth a concerted effort to keep the romance alive, the arrival of a baby can mark the end of a passionate companionship. At this point, remember that one of the greatest gifts you can give your children is the model of a successful marriage―one in which both partners listen, respond to, and support one another. Although it might seem difficult to imagine this now, it is really in your child's best interest for you to set aside time without your child, so that you can always continue to nurture your marriage.
You may have to work to stay connected to other aspects of your 'individuality'. It is so easy for a new mother to get swept away by this new role and to somewhat lose herself in the process. Therefore, it is essential that you make it a point to carve out some time for the activities that meant a lot to you prior to motherhood. By reserving a bit of time for enjoyable and rejuvenating activities, you will find it easier to share yourself with your child during the rest of the time. One suggestion is to reserve one evening a week where one of the parents can have time for himself/herself, in complete solitude. The other spouse is then responsible for all baby-related duties. This ensure that both you and your husband get quality time with your child as well as some very vital, personal time.
The best gift you can give to everyone around you (especially your children and your husband) is the gift of caring for yourself. Not only is your own self-care a gift to yourself―it is an absolute necessity for the health and well-being of your loved ones. While most new mothers will stop at nothing to ensure that their children's needs are met, these same women behave as if they can deny their own needs indefinitely. The reality of motherhood is that you can only share as much love and nurturing as you yourself are receiving. It is essential that all mothers ask for help and support on a regular basis in order to replenish themselves and to build up their reserves of energy and love. Once your needs are met, trust me, you'll have more to share with your family.